Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: Shellybeans on October 27, 2012, 10:35:32 PM

Title: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Shellybeans on October 27, 2012, 10:35:32 PM
I would like some advice on how to deal with this situation politely and sensibly, particularly without affecting my relationship with DH or his relationship with his parents (if possible):

My mother passed away in September this year, she had been sick since May of 2011 (diagnosed) and the prognosis was not great from the beginning.  However, she did very well until about May – June this year and then declined fairly quickly in August – September and then passed away mid-September.

I loved my mother, we were very close and got along very well.  She adored my husband and treated him very well also (which is in stark contrast to how I feel about MIL and how MIL has treated me).  The problem is, previously we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with his parents and then had lunch with my mum and sister and then had both families (PIL, mum and sister) to our place on Boxing Day for lunch.  This year – I do not want to do any of that.  It is our first Christmas together as a married couple and it is the first Christmas of my life that I will be without my mum, and it will be just over three months since she passed away, so not a very long time IMO.  I think if we ever had an "excuse" to change traditions, then this year would be it.

What really upsets me about this is that early in October (so approximately two weeks after mum passed away), MIL spoke to DH and stated that she wanted us to spend Christmas Day with them (not our usual "MO" anyway), and while this may be unclear without a lot of background, I know she is absolutely delighted and rubbing her hands in glee to be thinking this year, she can be the Queen Bee / Centre of Attention and have her son and DIL all TO HERSELF!  That is the way her mind works and her attitude in general, and I find it very offensive. 

I do not want to spend any time with PIL over Christmas, I am happy for DH to spend time with them either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as he sees fit.  If he chooses to spend the majority of his time with them, I am not entirely okay with that but I understand and I do not want to be involved.  This is also stemming from PILs (mostly MIL) behaviour at my mother’s funeral and MILs behaviour at the hospital before she died, so there is a lot going on in my head which makes the thought of spending time with her, particularly without the luxury of my mother also being around, that just makes my stomach turn. 

I do not want to receive gifts from PIL and I do not want to buy gifts for them, DH can buy gifts from himself to them.

How do I get DH to convey, politely, that I am not celebrating Christmas with them this year and that I am not exchanging gifts?  Is it possible to politely refuse a gift, or if one is given to me, should I just accept it – knowing that it will always be a bone of contention between us (another one!) if I accept a gift from them without having purchased one myself? 

Should I send PIL a Christmas card from me to "be polite" or should I just not bother?

In fairness to DH, should I have to essentially boycott Christmas with everyone this year, including him, friends and my sister, if I am “boycotting Christmas” with his parents?  Bear in mind, DH is aware of the issues between us and how hurt I have been in the past and especially this year.

Should I just go along with whatever they want so as not to cause any more stress and sadness for DH in what has already been a stressful and sad year (knowing that to do so will cause me a great deal of stress and sadness)?

Suggestions would be much appreciated - more specific information can be given, if necessary.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: crella on October 27, 2012, 11:04:00 PM
I think that after the death of a parent, forgoing celebrations for a while is normal. I lost my mother in early August, and I have already told DH that I won't be doing Christmas or a traditional Japanese new year this year (cooking the special foods etc) and he's fine with that. I just can't work up any enthusiasm for the holidays, and I don't have the issues you do. It is really out of place for your MIL to be jumping in with both feet, to orchestrate the holidays without even asking you if you wish to participate.


If my son and his wife could get a couple of days off  to come down here in December, only then would I put the tree up so that my granddaughter could enjoy it , she's almost 1 1/2 and loves sparkly and bright things...but it would take a visit from her to make me feel like doing anything.

You should feel free to take as much time as you need to reflect, and heal. Do what you feel like doing, if that's no Christmas festivities at all, or going to one friend's Christmas coffee or something. I wouldn't say that you had to avoid all holiday activities because you won't see your in-laws.


Edited to fix a typo.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Really? on October 27, 2012, 11:10:51 PM
First, sorry for your lose.

I've seen lots of posts where people want to change from the normal, especially after their family changes. Sounds like a great time to make your own tradition and just take a break.  Loosing someone you love is not easy and why put yourself through something stressful loike like Christmas with the inlaws. You are not doing it to be mean, you are doing it because you need time.

Me me me
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Iris on October 27, 2012, 11:32:05 PM
Firstly, please accept my condolences on your loss.

Secondly, it's going to have been only 3 months since your mother passed. For a relationship that close it is perfectly within normal parameters to still be deeply mourning and not up to a Christmas celebration. Your DH should let his parents know that you will not be celebrating, or that you will not be celebrating outside your closest circle if that is what you decide. I don't think you need to forgo a quiet celebration with whomever you choose. If they make a fuss, that's on them. You are not being rude in any way.

Thirdly, it's a bit difficult to comment since I don't know how badly your MIL behaved at the funeral etc, but when you are grieving is not the best time to make decisions about relationships IMO. Things that we might let slide at other times become too much to handle when grieving. Unless your MIL did something really, really objectively wrong then I would leave it at "mourning and not celebrating" at this stage, rather than "never want to celebrate with you again". Even if you do later decide to cut them off further it gives you a bit of breathing space to heal right now.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: GreenBird on October 27, 2012, 11:57:31 PM
I'm so sorry for the loss of your mother.  I think you absolutely should not "just go along with whatever they want so as not to cause any more stress" - you're in pain and understandably so, don't try to ignore it.  Be kind to yourself.

I think it's entirely fair to scale back and spend holiday time with people more selectively.  Even in a good year, you can't always do everything with everyone or you run yourself ragged and can't enjoy any of it.  And this is not a good year, so you're doubly justified in not trying to do everything.  It's okay to choose a few things to do, and not go to everything.

I also think this is a very natural time to change how you and DH spend the holidays.  Even if you weren't grieving, I think that the first year of marriage is a very common time to start establishing your own family holiday traditions.  And you don't have to decide right now how you're going to spend every Christmas from now on - just work out how you're going to spend this Christmas, knowing that this is a unique year.

On the gift-giving and holiday card - you could do one joint gift from both you and your DH to his parents, and let your DH pick out and get the gift to them. They're his parents, so it makes sense that he'd handle figuring out a gift for them anyway.  And you're married now, so a joint gift makes sense.  Ditto a card from both of you rather than individual cards from each of you.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Margo on October 28, 2012, 03:17:45 AM
I agree with everything Greenbird has said. I am so sorry for your loss.

I think it would be sensible for you to discuss this with your husband, too. You and he need to  e able to back each other up. Does he desperately want to spend time with his parents on Christmas day itself , if that means leaving you alone? What would your preference be? ( ie just you & him on the day, you & him with sister visiting, you & him spending some time visiting other family)
Listen to what your husband wants but be clear about what you would prefer, too.
The two of you being apart for (part of ) Christmas day could be very hard to cope with. You are married now, and that is, as PPs have said, an excellent reason to give for changing tradtions, and also for you an H to make the mental adjustment of thinking of your closest family as being each other, not PIL.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: cicero on October 28, 2012, 03:55:00 AM
condolences for your loss. Losing a loved one is always difficult, but when it comes thisclose to a major holiday or holiday season the loss is sometimes/somehow more difficult.

I am sorry your ILs are being so horrible to you. I will trust you when you say that your MIL was being mean when she discussed christmas so soon - normally, i wouldn't think it was mean (maybe tacky) because it *is* the time that holidays plans are discussed. (My mother passed away right before passover - a few days before - and my aunt was discussing Seder plans with us at the hospital. while it may have seemed a bit unkind at the time, i understand that she needed to know what was going on, ordreing food, arranging places for us to sleep, etc).

I think you need to sit down with your husband now and talk this out. you need to be united as a couple. he needs to back you up completely. If your MIL was mean to *you-shelleybeans* then she was mean to *you-shelleybeans+Mr. shelleybeans* (no matter what was said to whom). I understand where you are coming but personally - if my parents were that mean to my spouse, then there would be no way i would be going to their house on holiday unless there were sincere apologies and amendments made and then we would go *as a couple*. I am not sure exactly what they did to you - it might make a difference if we knew the background.

as for gifts etc - i would deal with the big issues first, then worry about the gifts.

hugs
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: camlan on October 28, 2012, 05:53:51 AM
I'm sorry for your loss.


In fairness to DH, should I have to essentially boycott Christmas with everyone this year, including him, friends and my sister, if I am “boycotting Christmas” with his parents?  Bear in mind, DH is aware of the issues between us and how hurt I have been in the past and especially this year.

Should I just go along with whatever they want so as not to cause any more stress and sadness for DH in what has already been a stressful and sad year (knowing that to do so will cause me a great deal of stress and sadness)?

Suggestions would be much appreciated - more specific information can be given, if necessary.

Addressing this issue--I don't think you have to boycott seeing your husband or sister Dec. 23-26. For one thing, does your sister have anyone else to spend the holidays with? She's suffering as much as you, and I think telling her she can't see you over the holidays would really hurt her. So do plan on seeing her. The two of you could spend Christmas Day together while your DH spends part of that day with his parents. If your in-laws can't see the difference between spending the holidays with a sibling who has also lost a parent or with in-laws, well, that is their issue.

You and your DH should sit down and plan what you want to have happen. Then he should present that plan to his parents as an accomplished fact, not open to change or bargaining. "This is what we need to do this year." Period. End of sentence. Leave room open for changes for next year and the years after that.

Just the fact that you are married this year gives you room for change. The two of you, in a year or two, might want a little holiday celebration of your own. So you might start spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning together, Christmas day with his parents and Boxing Day with just your sister.

If you usually send them a card, do so this year. Let DH handle the gifts.

Will FIL and MIL be upset? My guess is that yes, they will. I think you need to prepare yourself for this. They are allowed to be upset that their holiday plans will not be as they were hoping. They are allowed to be upset that they won't see their son as much as they'd like over the holidays.

But they are not allowed to make your lives miserable by whining, complaining, backstabbing, or other sabotage. They are grown-ups and should be able to handle their disappointment so as not to affect you or DH. They should be able to understand that you are still mourning and that celebrating the holidays isn't even on your radar this year--that you simply don't feel up to it.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Redsoil on October 28, 2012, 06:24:15 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss.  I can understand that Christmas this year will be pretty tough for you, and hope your DH can give you the support you need.

I think it would be useful for him to speak to his parents, and simply say something like "We're just having a quiet Christmas this year.  Things have been pretty rough, and I'm sure you can understand that Shellybean is especially sensitive as this is the first Christmas without her mother, so I want to support her through it.  I'm happy to come over and spend Christmas Eve with you, so we can have time together then." 

Talk with your husband, and explain how you're feeling, and that you really need his help to get through this.  If he doesn't know about any issues that are affecting you, this is the time to tell him, so he is aware of the impact your MILs actions are having.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Redsoil on October 28, 2012, 06:27:19 AM
Oh, and with regard to gifts and card for the PILs?  Have DH buy their gifts and write the card from both of you.  A small polite gesture that (hopefully) doesn't burden you too much, but that you can live with.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Bethalize on October 28, 2012, 06:40:30 AM
Sympathy and hugs. I lost my mother in November. My cousin babied my family through two very hard Christmas days. I am so grateful to her.

Don't worry about what everyone else wants. Say to your DH what you need. Then say what you would like. So something like this:

"This is a time of grieving for me. I need to spend the festive season I usually love without any pressure. What I would like is to spend the day quietly at home with just you and me and for you to see your parents at different times without me."

Until you state what you want and what you would like your partner can't make an informed choice. Now, your partner might choose to put your needs above all other, or he might balance them with the needs of others. But please, don't make assumptions about what your partner would choose. Let them choose for themselves with all the information in hand. Then tell everyone else. Don't JADE. Just tell them. They might be disappointed - that's allowed - but nice people will understand. Selfish people will die mad.  ::)

You and your DH are a unit. Therefore he can handle the PIL side of cards and gifts.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Sharnita on October 28, 2012, 07:49:10 AM
I do think you need to discuss it with DH.  Was he present/aware of what went on in the hospital and at the funeral?

Depending on what happened could you accept a compromise?  Could you accept a gift and allow DH to put your name on the gift he selects but have him do any exchange?  There would be no obligation to keep or use whatever they got you.

If there are services PIL usually attend could DH go with them as long as they don't conflict with something you'd like to do? That can make it seem like you and he are going a long way to meet their emotional needs.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Shellybeans on October 28, 2012, 08:59:01 AM
Thank you for the kind condolences and the advice so far.  I am hesitant to bring up too much of the past behaviour because I do not want to cloud the issue of Christmas too much, I really do want it to be about this particular Christmas being the first Christmas without mum, rather than the issues with the relationship with PILs that have been ongoing for several years now although I realise it is hard to separate the two (and I appear to be unable to do so at all, at the moment). 
 
I am also a bit concerned that this situation will be seen more as a DH issue, than entirely a PIL issue, and I would tend to agree that his way of dealing with his parents (i.e. not dealing with his parents) is a big problem in our relationship and not likely to improve by itself…it’s just not really a battle I wanted to fight right now, particularly as he has been – in every other aspect of our life – supportive, caring and wonderful.

To answer some of the questions: when we first started dating and came up to our first Christmas together, it did come up that I spent Christmas day with my mum and MIL (not MIL at the time) made it very clear that she didn't care about Christmas day as such, that her time with her children / family was Christmas Eve.  For that, and many other reasons, I do feel MIL bringing up Christmas when she did and the way she did was inappropriate and without consideration of anyone's feelings but her own.  She was extremely jealous that my mother had two daughters who adored her and would have done anything for her and I know she was very envious of our Christmas traditions.

I will also point out that DH is the only child to PIL but MIL has three children from a previous marriage, none of whom have any relationship with her.  MIL cut her daughter out of her life several years ago (one reason she was resentful of mum's good relationship with us) because she demanded daughter change her plans and spend Christmas Day with PIL, rather than Christmas Eve as had previously been planned and daughter did not...so I am not overreacting when I say my refusal (if that is what happens) is not going to go down well. 

For us to be apart for our first "married" Christmas (considering we rarely spend any time apart, generally speaking) would be sad for me, but if it would keep the peace between DH and PIL, I would cope with it.  My sister and I would like to spend some of the day at the cemetery with mum, and while I would appreciate DH being there for a little while himself, he does not have to.  The issue, of course, is that even if DH is with his parents, it will not be good enough - that I am not there would be unacceptable.

The reason I brought up gifts / cards etc., was because I know this is going to be another issue (this is the woman who threw a temper tantrum because DH and I didn't buy her any Easter chocolates this year), but DH and I can cross that bridge when we receive the unsolicited, expensive "wish list" this year and deal with it then.

Yes, I do know DH and I are going to have to discuss this and come to some sort of agreement.  I would have preferred it if we could have had more time to see how we both feel and talk about things in a more abstract manner but since MIL has made her demands clear and DH, in relaying those demands to me, has also made it clear he is expecting us to spend some time with his parents, I guess this will have to be addressed sooner rather than later. 

DH is aware of some of what has gone on, what happened at the hospital and at the funeral & wake, he was present for some of it (as were others) but there was a special conversation reserved solely for me, which I did share with DH.  He is also aware of ongoing issues over the last several years but..."that's just the way she is".  Bear in mind DH has not always fared well with his mother, she continuously belittles and berates him, treats him like he is incapable of looking after himself, was very hurtful to both of us in the lead up to our wedding, has a conveniently "selective" memory and is absolutely beside herself if we are doing it tough or struggling - she absolutely loves to hear that...yet, she is the only mother he has ever known and he has watched his father make excuses for her all his life, so he does the same himself.  Anyway, that probably explains why I really do not want to spend spend Christmas with her (or FIL) this year, but also why I am so apprehensive about broaching the subject with DH and not entirely sure I should make him deal with the fall-out.

Thank you again for your comments and advice.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: camlan on October 28, 2012, 09:15:42 AM
What I think is that at some point, there is going to need to be a big discussion about MIL's treatment of both of you, and probably some separation on your part.

However, this is probably not the best time for that.

Work out what would be the ideal Christmas for you, and establish what's a "need" and what is a "want." Then let your DH know what that is: I need you to come to the cemetery with me on Christmas day. I want to spend the whole day with you, but I know that you want to go to your parents' house for a while. I know that Christmas Eve is your family's traditional time together, so go, but please be home by 10 (or 11 or midnight or whatever).

Both you and DH need to accept that MIL will be upset. Work out a plan now on how to deal with that. But if you back down from your plans because she gets upset, you will have created the expectation that you will always back down--and it will get harder and harder and harder to stand up to her.

What it comes down to is this. Someone is going to be upset this Christmas. Do you want it to be you or your MIL? Does your DH want it to be you or his mother?
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: cicero on October 28, 2012, 09:29:25 AM
What I think is that at some point, there is going to need to be a big discussion about MIL's treatment of both of you, and probably some separation on your part.

However, this is probably not the best time for that.

Work out what would be the ideal Christmas for you, and establish what's a "need" and what is a "want." Then let your DH know what that is: I need you to come to the cemetery with me on Christmas day. I want to spend the whole day with you, but I know that you want to go to your parents' house for a while. I know that Christmas Eve is your family's traditional time together, so go, but please be home by 10 (or 11 or midnight or whatever).

Both you and DH need to accept that MIL will be upset. Work out a plan now on how to deal with that. But if you back down from your plans because she gets upset, you will have created the expectation that you will always back down--and it will get harder and harder and harder to stand up to her.

What it comes down to is this. Someone is going to be upset this Christmas. Do you want it to be you or your MIL? Does your DH want it to be you or his mother?
this

and i think even further - while it is about *this christmas* , it really isn't. because - when you get down to it, a holiday is a holiday. sometimes, some years, it happens that we don't get to celebrate the way we want to. (off hand i can recall the year DS came down with mumps the night before passover. or the year i was battling cancer and had to be in the hospital the day after Passover seder. so - you do what you have to do). the important thing is how you and your DH will be going forth from this point on. yes, you have to deal with *this christmas* because it's right around the corner, but you also need to deal with the bigger picture of your relationship (or lack thereof) with your PILs.

I think as Camlan said - you need to work out what *you* want (and if ever there is a time for you to be "selfish" it is now). don't think about "keeping the peace" because with people like your MIL there is no, and will never be, keeping the peace. no matter what you do - she will complain (and probably talk about your behind your back). no matter how hard you try to make her feel good, it won't work. and you will kill yourself and your marriage trying.

Be gently honest with your DH. let him know that there is a reason that your MIL's children have nothing to do with her.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: AmethystAnne on October 28, 2012, 10:15:20 AM
I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. Good Moms are precious.

I am also so sorry for your DH having this kind of a mother. Her attitude of "my way or the highway" is so sad.

Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Deetee on October 28, 2012, 10:33:16 AM
I agree with most of what was said on this thread with a couple points that deserve to be re-stated.

1)" Begin as you mean to go on" used to to be stated on this board a lot and is still food advice. Take a stand at the beginning and it gets easier every year (with the caveat of "extinction bursts" at first)

2) You are in mourning. Have the Christmas you want. The fact that you are OK with your husband doing some visiting himself tells me you are not stuck in some selfish phase.  Stay home, see close friends, see no-one. It's all good. Next year you can start to expand your Christmas.

3) Your husband should deliver the message BUT he should also be VERY clear that this is what HE WANTS as well (apologizing for yelling) so they cannot blame you for this decision.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: GratefulMaria on October 28, 2012, 11:11:01 AM
I am so sorry for your loss.  I'm also sorry you're faced with such difficult in-law behavior.

My go-to book is Susan Forward's Toxic Parents http://www.powells.com/biblio/95-9780307575326-0  She also wrote Toxic In-Laws.  I found both of them really straightforward and compassionate.


Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Minmom3 on October 28, 2012, 12:29:37 PM
I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. Good Moms are precious.

I am also so sorry for your DH having this kind of a mother. Her attitude of "my way or the highway" is so sad.

I am envious that Shellybeans HAD a Mom whose loss she mourns so deeply.  How unfair that her MIL is the other end of the spectrum!

POD on figuring out what you need this Christmas, and worry about the rest of the Big Picture later on, when you yourself are in better shape for the conflict that will arise.   
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 28, 2012, 01:05:09 PM
I am so sorry for your loss. 

I agree with the others that you and DH must be on the same page, but he must also be more sensitive to your needs and wants than his mother, especially given the circumstances. 

Someone upthread asked who he would prefer be upset with him - you or his mom?  Whom he chooses in that regard will be very telling. 

You also mentioned he dismisses the situation and his mother's actions by saying that is just the way she is.  That is a cop out.  He has to learn to put YOU, his WIFE first.  This is a highly emotionally charged time for you.  He needs to be there for YOU. 

You have every right not to celebrate Christmas or want to be near his family.  DH needs to respect that and portray a united front to his parents.  Period.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Sharnita on October 28, 2012, 02:09:40 PM
I am so sorry for your loss. 

I agree with the others that you and DH must be on the same page, but he must also be more sensitive to your needs and wants than his mother, especially given the circumstances. 

Someone upthread asked who he would prefer be upset with him - you or his mom?  Whom he chooses in that regard will be very telling. 

You also mentioned he dismisses the situation and his mother's actions by saying that is just the way she is.  That is a cop out.  He has to learn to put YOU, his WIFE first.  This is a highly emotionally charged time for you.  He needs to be there for YOU. 

You have every right not to celebrate Christmas or want to be near his family.  DH needs to respect that and portray a united front to his parents.  Period.

I think the actions that he dismisses are actions against himself,at least partially.  It also sound like he is aware of some but not all of what went down.  While it is important that he be sensitive it sounds like some of these issues have not been directly addressed or discussed, at least in terms of Christmas and what OP wants/needs.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 28, 2012, 02:15:36 PM
I am so sorry for your loss. 

I agree with the others that you and DH must be on the same page, but he must also be more sensitive to your needs and wants than his mother, especially given the circumstances. 

Someone upthread asked who he would prefer be upset with him - you or his mom?  Whom he chooses in that regard will be very telling. 

You also mentioned he dismisses the situation and his mother's actions by saying that is just the way she is.  That is a cop out.  He has to learn to put YOU, his WIFE first.  This is a highly emotionally charged time for you.  He needs to be there for YOU. 

You have every right not to celebrate Christmas or want to be near his family.  DH needs to respect that and portray a united front to his parents.  Period.

I think the actions that he dismisses are actions against himself,at least partially.  It also sound like he is aware of some but not all of what went down.  While it is important that he be sensitive it sounds like some of these issues have not been directly addressed or discussed, at least in terms of Christmas and what OP wants/needs.

Yes, absolutely.  There must be a discussion.  No doubt.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: SPuck on October 28, 2012, 02:22:49 PM
I think what you need to do is shore up your backbone and have a discussion with your husband about what his mother did. MIL did A, B, C, and X, Y, Z when your mother was in the hospital and at her funeral. After he understands the gravity of the offense, or at least it's told clearly and concisely, you have a second discussion about a fair plan for Christmas. Him not seeing his mother during all of Christmas might be to a drastic cut, seeing her on Christmas eve while you get him for the rest of the holiday could work. It might be hard now, but your the one who is going to have to take a firm stance, especially if he has a hard time standing up to his mother. If your clear about what you wants, instead of giving him what ifs and maybes, it will work out better for everyone in the end.

Also when explaining the offenses his mother committed, I wouldn't use the words "I feel." If you say I feel, its your opinion about what happened during the situation. Instead of saying something like "I feel your mother insulted my mother" you should say "your mother called my mother a pig" the second one comes off stronger.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Hmmmmm on October 28, 2012, 03:00:20 PM
I'm very sorry for your loss.  We lost our Dad in November and our Mom the following August so I understand the challenges of dealing with the holidays while trying to balance the needs of a SO. 

I agree with others that you need to decide what you want to do.  Tell your DH you want a low key holiday.  That you are fine with him giving gifts from the two of you for his family and spending time with them on Xmas Eve but you won't be attending.  And tell him you want to plan a Xmas day observance (not so much celebration) with him and your sis so the three of you can reminece about your mom without it putting a damper on others celebrations or making you feel like you have to present a more joyful personal than you feel. 

And some advice that helped me.  It is ok to feel resentment that others still have their mom and you don't.  Especially when you had a great one and they are complaining about the awful person that gave birth to them.  It's not fair and it never will be.  But also remember how wonderful it is that you had the privilege of having that wonderful woman in your life even if it was for a short time.  I used to remind myself that I would rather have had my parents for the 24 years they were with me than have different parents for 50.

Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Roses on October 28, 2012, 04:30:12 PM
First, I'm so sorry for your loss, my heart goes out to you.

You have to do what's right for you during this difficult time, if that means not celebrating Christmas with your MIL, then that's what you need to do. I would also echo what others have said, especially:

1) Start as you mean to continue.
2) Get your steel spine in place, if your MIL was inappropriate/mean during those most difficult times, you need to start standing up to her now so she knows how you expect to be treated.
3) You and your DH need to get on the same page.  The TWO of you are a family unit now and you need to put your family first, then decide together when/how/if to let others share in that family.
4) Regarding the gift, your DH should decide on/purchase the gift and card and sign it from both of you. 

Best of luck to you OP. 
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 28, 2012, 05:40:39 PM
I think what you need to do is shore up your backbone and have a discussion with your husband about what his mother did. MIL did A, B, C, and X, Y, Z when your mother was in the hospital and at her funeral. After he understands the gravity of the offense, or at least it's told clearly and concisely, you have a second discussion about a fair plan for Christmas. Him not seeing his mother during all of Christmas might be to a drastic cut, seeing her on Christmas eve while you get him for the rest of the holiday could work. It might be hard now, but your the one who is going to have to take a firm stance, especially if he has a hard time standing up to his mother. If your clear about what you wants, instead of giving him what ifs and maybes, it will work out better for everyone in the end.

Also when explaining the offenses his mother committed, I wouldn't use the words "I feel." If you say I feel, its your opinion about what happened during the situation. Instead of saying something like "I feel your mother insulted my mother" you should say "your mother called my mother a pig" the second one comes off stronger.

I have to pod every single word of this post. 
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: kudeebee on October 28, 2012, 05:45:05 PM
I agree with what other posters have said.  You and dh need to sit down and have a long, serious talk about everything that has gone on with mil.Don't hide anythng from him.  You two must be on the same page and dh needs to put you first.

Then, decide how you want to spend christmas, both this year and possibly in the future.  If pil like Christmas eve, then perhaps dh goes and spends 3 or so hours with them.  Let him buy the gift from both of you and sign the card from both of you.  If you get a gift, write a thank you.  Then you can decide what to do with the gift.

Spend Christmas day with dh and your sister.  DH can drive you to the cemetery and come back and get you, or hang around in the car and read/surf the net.  If you don't feel like a boxing day party this year, don't have one.

Then next year, you can revisit this issue and make your plans accordingly.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Shellybeans on October 28, 2012, 05:48:56 PM
Forgive me, I am trying to do quotes so I can respond properly - this may not work.

Work out what would be the ideal Christmas for you, and establish what's a "need" and what is a "want." Then let your DH know what that is: I need you to come to the cemetery with me on Christmas day. I want to spend the whole day with you, but I know that you want to go to your parents' house for a while. I know that Christmas Eve is your family's traditional time together, so go, but please be home by 10 (or 11 or midnight or whatever).
I like this and I think I will try to use this.  I would like DH to consider his wants and needs also, and I am willing to compromise for us and our relationship.

Be gently honest with your DH. let him know that there is a reason that your MIL's children have nothing to do with her.
I was willing to give MIL the benefit of the doubt to begin with - I do know wonderful women who have toxic children (my own mother, also!) - but it has become clear to me that the problem is MIL not everyone else in the world.  I think DH is starting to understand that, too.

I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. Good Moms are precious.
Thank you - I know how lucky I was to have the mother that I did.  I could (and did) put up with a lot from MIL because I knew I had my mum, and I loved that DH got to see what a wonderful mum is like...she was diagnosed very soon after our engagement and he did not have the benefit of really knowing her at her very best for a long period of time.

1)" Begin as you mean to go on" used to to be stated on this board a lot and is still food advice. Take a stand at the beginning and it gets easier every year (with the caveat of "extinction bursts" at first)
If I knew then what I know now, I definitely would have established very clear boundaries and put some rules in place, but I didn't and the only thing that has been established is PILs behaviour and us (DH & me) letting them treat us badly.  I realise I am partly to blame, I just honestly didn't go in expecting the worst and MIL did not show her true colours from the very beginning.  I am, however, very willing to begin as I mean to go on from now on and I do think DH will be able to understand why changes will need to be made.

Thank you to everyone for the advice, I have read many previous threads about in-law problems and toxic relationships going back several years on this forum.  I wish I had been reading here from the beginning of our relationship!  I will address some more replies in my next post.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Auntie Mame on October 28, 2012, 06:04:35 PM
I went through some hard years with my family establishing and holding strong boundaries.  It is hard, very very hard to undo a lifetime of habits.  But I will tell you, once I did, things got so much better.

Continue communicating with your DH, it sounds like you have a good man there, and as long as you both keep an open dialogue and compromise you will find what works best.  The fact that you are both listening to other person and acknowledging needs and wants speaks volumes.

Just remember, compromise doesn't mean putting up with bad behavior.  My family and I have finally found solid ground and have put the past behind us.  It was a long road, and I had to hold my lonely ground for awhile, but eventually it got better.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Shellybeans on October 28, 2012, 07:51:44 PM
I am so sorry for your loss.  I'm also sorry you're faced with such difficult in-law behavior.

My go-to book is Susan Forward's Toxic Parents http://www.powells.com/biblio/95-9780307575326-0  She also wrote Toxic In-Laws.  I found both of them really straightforward and compassionate.
I have seen those books recommended here before and I found "Toxic In-Laws" available as an eBook, I think I will be purchasing it today.  I will read it, I am not sure if DH would appreciate "Toxic Parents" for Christmas...but if Toxic In-Laws is helpful to me, I might suggest he has a read of it himself.

Someone upthread asked who he would prefer be upset with him - you or his mom?  Whom he chooses in that regard will be very telling. 
I never wanted it to have to be a choice, I would not have liked to have to choose between DH and my mum - but if she had treated him the way his mum has treated me, I would definitely have put DH first - but I can say that knowing my mum never would have treated DH badly.  My mum also never treated me badly, as his mum does to him. 

You also mentioned he dismisses the situation and his mother's actions by saying that is just the way she is.  That is a cop out.  He has to learn to put YOU, his WIFE first.  This is a highly emotionally charged time for you.  He needs to be there for YOU. 
I completely agree, I find "that's just the way he/she is" is almost always used as an excuse to excuse otherwise inexcusable behaviour (did that make sense?) - people are the way they are because they choose to be that way.  I am also aware that DH has been subjected to his mother's behaviour and this excuse for his mother all his life.

In every other situation, in every other way - he has put me first and he has been there for me, it has not been an easy year for him with his MIL being ill and dying and his wife grieving and other things that have happened, unrelated to this situation (financial problems, issues I have had with my work etc.). 

I think the actions that he dismisses are actions against himself,at least partially.  It also sound like he is aware of some but not all of what went down.  While it is important that he be sensitive it sounds like some of these issues have not been directly addressed or discussed, at least in terms of Christmas and what OP wants/needs.
 
Yes, you are quite right - she has treated him as badly as she has treated me - and he has had to put up with it for a lot longer and deal with the threats, guilt and fallout for a long time.   At the same time, I know he does have some good memories and experiences with his mother over 30+ years which I don't have and while I have told him what has happened after it has happened, he has not been present for a lot of it.  I haven't really broached Christmas with him yet.  I will get a discussion started tonight even if we don't resolve anything straight away it will give him some time to think about it.  I just wanted to try and get some things sorted out myself before we try and resolve this together and the replies here have helped me a lot.

You two must be on the same page and dh needs to put you first.
A lot of people have said this and I would like us to be in agreement and I would like DH to put me first - I would also like to make it clear that I will put him first and we will take it from there.  I don't think he really understands how I (or my sister) feel after losing mum and how this has affected us because he does not have with his parents what we had with our mother. 

it sounds like you have a good man there

Just remember, compromise doesn't mean putting up with bad behavior.  My family and I have finally found solid ground and have put the past behind us.  It was a long road, and I had to hold my lonely ground for awhile, but eventually it got better.
He is a good man.  I am glad you and your family were able to sort things out, I suspect with PIL, it will get worse before it gets better (and I am not convinced that it will get better).
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: blarg314 on October 28, 2012, 08:03:26 PM
For this Christmas, I think you need to be really blunt with your husband.   You're grieving for your mother and the fact that you won't see her this Christmas.  If your PIL were reasonable people, you could suck it up and go for a while on Christmas for their sake and DH's sake, but they're not reasonable people, and they've behaved really badly towards you during your mother's illness and death. You can't face spending an emotionally charged Christmas around them.  You're fine with DH going to visit them for a short while, but you'd be really hurt and very sad if he chose to leave you alone for the whole Christmas when you're already in pain.

Then, independent of this, I'd very, very strongly recommend counselling with someone who specializes in family issues. It's very hard for someone like your DH who grew up in a family like this to learn to handle things constructively. His current, well ingrained response is to ignore it, and/or put up with it, and that approach does *not* work for you. Changing his approach will be a very difficult process.

And if your MIL cuts you off because you can't spend the first Christmas after your mother died putting up with her garbage, this will just force the issue out into the open.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 28, 2012, 08:14:50 PM


Someone upthread asked who he would prefer be upset with him - you or his mom?  Whom he chooses in that regard will be very telling. 
I never wanted it to have to be a choice, I would not have liked to have to choose between DH and my mum - but if she had treated him the way his mum has treated me, I would definitely have put DH first - but I can say that knowing my mum never would have treated DH badly.  My mum also never treated me badly, as his mum does to him. 

You also mentioned he dismisses the situation and his mother's actions by saying that is just the way she is.  That is a cop out.  He has to learn to put YOU, his WIFE first.  This is a highly emotionally charged time for you.  He needs to be there for YOU. 
I completely agree, I find "that's just the way he/she is" is almost always used as an excuse to excuse otherwise inexcusable behaviour (did that make sense?) - people are the way they are because they choose to be that way.  I am also aware that DH has been subjected to his mother's behaviour and this excuse for his mother all his life.

In every other situation, in every other way - he has put me first and he has been there for me, it has not been an easy year for him with his MIL being ill and dying and his wife grieving and other things that have happened, unrelated to this situation (financial problems, issues I have had with my work etc.). 

All that makes perfect sense.  It is so easy just to let it slide and go with the old excuses because it is far better than the outcome of her having a total fit.  He probably doesn't even realize HOW much he enables her behaviour. 

I really like the idea upthread someone said about laying out the specifics of what she has said and done to you, without the 'I feel' statements.  He just may not realize HOW mean it is to YOU b/c you have not dealt with it for a lifetime like he has.  For him, it is completely normal.  In real life, it is horrible abuse.   Maybe once he can learn that... perhaps through counseling... he can learn to be on the same page as you.


Quote
You two must be on the same page and dh needs to put you first.
A lot of people have said this and I would like us to be in agreement and I would like DH to put me first - I would also like to make it clear that I will put him first and we will take it from there.  I don't think he really understands how I (or my sister) feel after losing mum and how this has affected us because he does not have with his parents what we had with our mother. 

This is SO important. He doesn't have a clue how you feel.  No one can know just how much it hurts to lose a parent until it happens to them.  It is an immense sadness that is indescribable.  People can offer their empathy and sympathies, but until they have gone through it, they just can't know how it feels.  It is a feeling, for me, that I had never felt and it feels like crap. 

You are still in the new stage of grieving.  It has only been three months.  I was still an emotional blubbering wreck at that time after my dad died.   While he can't possibly understand how it feels, he as your husband, should empathize and listen to your lead that you need him and your sister this holiday season.  You can't be put in any toxic position because you are not emotionally equipped to deal with it right now.  This step you're taking not wanting to spend Xmas with his family is very healthy for you b/c you are setting a clear boundary of what you can and cannot accept in your fragile state.   

You also have a sister, so you need to take steps to ensure she is not alone for the holidays.  If she is single, that means she spend the holidays with you.  That is reason enough to want to stay home b/c it doesn't sound like his family is welcoming to your family for their Christmas holiday. 

Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 28, 2012, 08:16:21 PM
Can I also suggest for you a book that will help you set boundaries and perhaps understand how your MIL's toxicity has affected your dh:  Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner .   It gives tools to set new boundaries and how to handle the toxic relative's reaction to your changes.  The key is you are changing how you react to the toxicity. 
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: GrammarNerd on October 28, 2012, 08:34:48 PM
OP, you have my sympathy for your loss, and for what you have to go through now.

My mother passed away 3 years ago, and I had some issues dealing with the inlaws after her passing.  First, DH had a hermit uncle (yes, most definitely some psychological problems there).  For some reason, there were several relatives who did the grocery shopping for him, carted him around (when they could get him out of the house; he was a lifelong bachelor so had no wife or kids of his own), etc.  Basically, instead of getting him help or encouraging him to get help, they enabled him.  For years. He got more and more and more reclusive. (This man had been very active and outgoing years before, so this reclusiveness was a somewhat new thing; I have my own thoughts on that.) He refused to go to the doctor, even when it was obvious there were problems.  And when he finally did go, it was too late because he had cancer and a host of other problems. 

My mother had a chronic condition which could be managed, but she also had a weaker heart than average.  The condition took a toll on her heart.  My sister and I did everything we could to manage her condition and keep her with us as long as possible.  She knew this (well, some of it), and was very appreciative, and trusted us to make the best decisions for her, even if she didn't want to do it (no chocolate? blasphemy! ;)  ).  So after my mother passed away (and I was right there with her), I couldn't stand to hear ANYTHING about DH's uncle.  We tried so hard to keep my mother alive, and when they talked about him, all I could see was a man who refused medical help until it was too late to have any benefit. Whenever my MIL would bring him up, I'd grit my teeth and say nothing.  Finally, within a few months after my mother died, DH mentioned something about the uncle or seeing the uncle since he was sick, and I lost it.  I told him, tearily and noticably upset, that I just lost my mother, and if there had been some way keeping her alive longer, some other medical thing, we would have done it.  Without hesitation. Not a question...we would have done it.  Yet there was nothing that could be done for her anymore.  Yet his uncle could likely have had a much better prognosis, yet he REFUSED medical treatment, or even to SEE a medical professional, for months (could be years...I don't know).  He had it available to him, and he REFUSED it.  So, I told him, don't talk to me about going to pander to a man who values his life so little that he could essentially throw it away, when my mother just wanted to live and went through a lot, weekly, just so she COULD continue to live.

It was strong, I know.  There were circumstances of uncle's mental state, I know.  It wasn't as cut and dried as that, I know.  But that didn't matter to me at the time.  I had just lost my mother, and I told DH that I could just NOT handle seeing or hearing about the uncle.  It was like sticking a knife in my grief and twisting it.

OP, I don't know how your DH is, but maybe you need to get a little bit mad and emotional for him to understand.  Contrast what you were going through, with what MIL said at a certain time.  "DH, I was in the hospital, knowing that I had hours left with my mother.  EVER.  And your mother said XYZ.  Do you know how that made me feel?  Do you realize that I will ALWAYS remember that she chose to do/say that?"  Tell him that the wounds are still very fresh, and you still remember that like it was yesterday.  So to be around her at Christmas, which meant something special to your mother but was just almost an ordinary day to his mother?  No, you do not need to be around MIL on that day.

Perhaps 'she didn't mean it'.  Fine.  But you're feeling what you're feeling, and you have the right to feel that way.  Your MIL is a big girl and she didn't just lose someone.  In fact, she told you the day had no special meaning.  So you're taking her at her word.  Tell him you need him to have your back on this, even though he may not understand it completely.  And if MIL gets mad?  Tough.  She can get over it or die mad (to use a phrase I've seen on this board numerous times).

Hang in there.  And again, you have my sympathies.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: JoyinVirginia on October 28, 2012, 11:33:22 PM
Condolences to you and your sister. You have received a lot of good advice. There is nothing wrong with telling dh that you cannot deal with mil over the holidays and you will not be doing anything for  her, so out is on him to get card, gift etc -   but gift limit is $x and not expensive. You and your sister do what you want. Mil will live. And if she throws a tantrum, well, your dh will live too.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Iris on October 29, 2012, 12:21:36 AM
I just wanted to pop back in to comment on one thing - the "who would he rather have upset" idea. While this is a veryvalid point  know it can come with pitfalls. My MIL, although nowhere near as toxic a yours, was very PA and had a history of crying when she didn't like a situation. So early in our relationship, DH really *would* have rather upset me than his mother. Not because I was less of a priority or because he loved me less, simply because firstly I appeared less upset (because I reacted like an adult  ::) ) so he just didn't realise how I felt and secondly because it was just so much more unpleasant for him to have an upset mother than an upset wife. It took a lot of verbalising my feelings and pointing out his mother 'tricks' before he really understood the full implications of "who would you rather upset..."

I was never so proud of him a the day that his mother cried over something trivial and he just ignored it. Doesn't sound like much but it represented a lot of healing after a mother-centred upbringing

Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: blarg314 on October 29, 2012, 12:45:01 AM

As an aside - after losing someone close to you, holiday times can be particularly trying, even after you've progressed past the rawest part of the grief. The routines and setting are familiar, but you've got the constant reminder of this big gaping hole in the middle of it.

So even when it's a happy holiday, you sometimes need to sneak away somewhere quiet and cry, and have people around you who understand when you get sad at happy moments. 

Balancing this against a toxic family situation means that you have *two* very difficult things to balance, and that can really wring you out emotionally.

So I think it's worth sorting this out with your husband well in advance of Christmas, and planning carefully about how you're going to handle it, to save yourself some heartache at the time.

Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Snooks on October 29, 2012, 06:04:21 AM
I think after losing someone it's a good thing to change traditions because that gaping hole isn't obvious every time you go to do something.  This year is maybe not the year to shake everything up, do what you need to do with your sister and play things by ear.  Maybe you'll go to the cemetery every year on Christmas day, maybe you won't, but this year you need to.  Next year will be easier because you will have made a half step away from your traditions this year.

As far as your MIL goes, let DH go and see her on Christmas Eve and let him get the present (first year married - new tradition, joint presents!).  I may be projecting slightly but one of my concerns would be how DH is with his parents without you around, if you want him to start standing up to MIL when she says something about you then I would suggest explaining to DH that this needs to happen whether you're there or not.  So make sure he tells her before Christmas Eve that you won't be attending, and try to get him to understand that if she says anything on Christmas Eve about you not being there he must speak up on your behalf.

I'm sorry for your loss and I hope that you and DH can navigate through this successfully together.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: RooRoo on October 29, 2012, 06:22:09 AM
I agree with every one above.

I want to point out one important thing. DH should not go to the PIL's on Christmas Day. If he has to go, it should be Christmas Eve, as usual.

If he goes Christmas Day, it will set a precedent, and you can look forward to "But you did it laaaast yeeeear!"
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: bopper on October 29, 2012, 09:50:29 AM
Tell your DH to imagine you have two kids, ages 5 and 7.  How will he and you want Christmas to go?
Would you want your children to wake up on Christmas morning and open presents and then get a chance to play with them...
and do you see yourself then travelling anywhere or just staying home? 
How do you and he see Christmas Eve?
And then boxing day? 
Ask him for a balance between nuclear family time and extended family time.
So let's say you end up with spending time with the PIL's on Xmas Eve, having Xmas time at home, and then your side on boxing day.

Then you should start that now.  Let him go to Xmas eve this year (him telling everyone you are still in mourning but intend to join him in the future), and then have your xmas day alone this year.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: mj on October 29, 2012, 10:31:05 AM
I'm so sorry for your loss.

My MIL used to approach DH specifically without me there to make holiday plans.  DH has a similar family dynamic as yours.  One of the things he learned was to go on offense, rather than defense.  So, instead of letting her tell him what she wants (demanding) Dh would simply say he would get back to her when we know our availability.  That progressed to DH actively going to her to let her know, before she had the chance to ask.  He grew more confident the more times he took control over his own plans and was able to state them.

MIL would cry, pout, gossip, try to get others to intervene.  Each time it cut down on our availability.  But the thing is, that is on her and it did take my DH some time to realize that her reactions are hers, not ours. 

With that said, my best advice is for you to go on offense too.  State plainly to your DH what you need and what you will be doing.  The rest is on him to figure out.

Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: TootsNYC on October 29, 2012, 11:58:01 AM

You also mentioned he dismisses the situation and his mother's actions by saying that is just the way she is.  That is a cop out.  He has to learn to put YOU, his WIFE first.  This is a highly emotionally charged time for you.  He needs to be there for YOU. 
I completely agree, I find "that's just the way he/she is" is almost always used as an excuse to excuse otherwise inexcusable behaviour (did that make sense?) - people are the way they are because they choose to be that way.  I am also aware that DH has been subjected to his mother's behaviour and this excuse for his mother all his life.


Sometimes I think people say "that's just the way she is" when they are feeling pressured to CHANGE someone. When they are only being presented with *complaints* and not with requests to craft a response.

Your DH can't change his mom. And if your complaints feel to him as though he is being pressured *to* change her, then this is how he is going to respond to you.

The truth is, That IS just the way she is. And he has realized that he is not going to be able to change her.

So if this is the response you get from him when you complain about your MIL, you need to change your script. You need to start saying, "Since your mother is this way, I want to response in *other* way than we have been doing."

I think a lot of times that "just the way they are" gets trotted out not to *excuse* the behavior but to say, "this is the part of the equation we are not going to change. Stop pressuring me."

Just a thought.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: wheeitsme on October 29, 2012, 12:27:22 PM
It's hard, I know.

Last year was the first year in 5 years since my Mom died that I didn't have to go to the IL's for Mother's day.  They just did not get it. They are sweet people, but I had to leave the state to be able to ignore Mother's day.

I think that it is perfectly okay to spend Christmas away from the PIL's.  But I don't think a present boycott is the way to go.  Take this time to bond with your family.  This is going to be a really hard Holiday for you all. If your DH feels that he needs to show up at some point at his parents, so be it, but that day will be painful enough without having to put on a "Happy Christmas Face" so soon after your loss, so you will not be able to join him.

And no matter what people say, no matter how nice they are, people tend to be made uncomfortable at the happy holiday by any outward grieving.  Ask your DH how comfortable his parents and family would be with any show of grief on your part.  And then ask him how nice or kind it is to make you put on that "Happy Christmas Face" for his family.

Losing someone like that is like a piece of glass that has been shattered with a hole and then tossed into the ocean.
The pain will ebb.  The sharp edges will get softer.  The hole will always be there.  ((((Hugs))))
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 29, 2012, 12:52:50 PM
It's hard, I know.

Last year was the first year in 5 years since my Mom died that I didn't have to go to the IL's for Mother's day.  They just did not get it. They are sweet people, but I had to leave the state to be able to ignore Mother's day.

I think that it is perfectly okay to spend Christmas away from the PIL's.  But I don't think a present boycott is the way to go.  Take this time to bond with your family.  This is going to be a really hard Holiday for you all. If your DH feels that he needs to show up at some point at his parents, so be it, but that day will be painful enough without having to put on a "Happy Christmas Face" so soon after your loss, so you will not be able to join him.

And no matter what people say, no matter how nice they are, people tend to be made uncomfortable at the happy holiday by any outward grieving. Ask your DH how comfortable his parents and family would be with any show of grief on your part.  And then ask him how nice or kind it is to make you put on that "Happy Christmas Face" for his family.

Losing someone like that is like a piece of glass that has been shattered with a hole and then tossed into the ocean.
The pain will ebb.  The sharp edges will get softer.  The hole will always be there.  ((((Hugs))))

Oh my!  I can't imagine how painful those Mother's Days must have been for you.  I'm so sorry you were put in that position. 

What a great analogy for the Happy Face vs Visible Grieving.   If that doesn't drive the point, I don't know what will. 
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: heartmug on October 29, 2012, 01:21:26 PM
I am so sorry for your loss.

When my mom died, I didn't go to any function with my inlaws.  I too felt they just didn't care.  She died.  Then sent a card and flowers, then she was never mentioned again.  Not on Mother's Day, my birthday, or Thanksgiving.  No calls to see how I was holding up nor offers of help.  So I stayed home Christmas Eve and day and DH decided to stay with me.  BUT that was his choice.

Good luck with your situation.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 29, 2012, 02:14:06 PM
I am so sorry for your loss.

When my mom died, I didn't go to any function with my inlaws.  I too felt they just didn't care.  She died.  Then sent a card and flowers, then she was never mentioned again.  Not on Mother's Day, my birthday, or Thanksgiving.  No calls to see how I was holding up nor offers of help.  So I stayed home Christmas Eve and day and DH decided to stay with me.  BUT that was his choice.

Good luck with your situation.

What is wrong with people? 
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: cutejellybeen on October 29, 2012, 02:52:28 PM
I am so sorry for your loss.

When my mom died, I didn't go to any function with my in laws.  I too felt they just didn't care.  She died.  Then sent a card and flowers, then she was never mentioned again.  Not on Mother's Day, my birthday, or Thanksgiving.  No calls to see how I was holding up nor offers of help.  So I stayed home Christmas Eve and day and DH decided to stay with me.  BUT that was his choice.

Good luck with your situation.

What is wrong with people?

I don't know if this was the case here, but my Mother passed away when I was 11. I'm now 31, I find it uncomfortable when people bring my mother up all the time. They might think they do it for my benefit, because THEY feel I am not bereaved enough, but I feel they bring her up for THEIR benefit, so they can feel good about reminding me that she isn't there and how I should be sad about that.  i find it slightly offensive actually.  Maybe I'm the odd one out though, but constantly reminding someone of their loved one doesn't bring them back, and just makes me feel like they think I'm doing it wrong - as though I don't keenly feel her missing just because I've had to move on with my life, and that I'm bad because I love my stepmother and brothers that came from that marriage.

Is it possible that people not bringing it up are trying to be kind? I might ask how someone is doing but i would not ask how someone is doing with their grief and how  much their loved one would love to be at 'event'. 


ETA - OP I think you are well within your rights to not want to attend Christmas with your In Laws this year - but I agree about starting as you mean to go forward. If your MIL is at all Passive Agressive as mine is, expect tears from her to your DH and that he might try and convince you to go for family harmony. Thats how I got into a terrible Christmas funk last year - this year he is on board that even if she cries we are doing christmas in the way that best suits us.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 29, 2012, 03:17:00 PM
I am so sorry for your loss.

When my mom died, I didn't go to any function with my in laws.  I too felt they just didn't care.  She died.  Then sent a card and flowers, then she was never mentioned again.  Not on Mother's Day, my birthday, or Thanksgiving.  No calls to see how I was holding up nor offers of help.  So I stayed home Christmas Eve and day and DH decided to stay with me.  BUT that was his choice.

Good luck with your situation.

What is wrong with people?

I don't know if this was the case here, but my Mother passed away when I was 11. I'm now 31, I find it uncomfortable when people bring my mother up all the time. They might think they do it for my benefit, because THEY feel I am not bereaved enough, but I feel they bring her up for THEIR benefit, so they can feel good about reminding me that she isn't there and how I should be sad about that.  i find it slightly offensive actually.  Maybe I'm the odd one out though, but constantly reminding someone of their loved one doesn't bring them back, and just makes me feel like they think I'm doing it wrong - as though I don't keenly feel her missing just because I've had to move on with my life, and that I'm bad because I love my stepmother and brothers that came from that marriage.

Is it possible that people not bringing it up are trying to be kind? I might ask how someone is doing but i would not ask how someone is doing with their grief and how  much their loved one would love to be at 'event'. 


ETA - OP I think you are well within your rights to not want to attend Christmas with your In Laws this year - but I agree about starting as you mean to go forward. If your MIL is at all Passive Agressive as mine is, expect tears from her to your DH and that he might try and convince you to go for family harmony. Thats how I got into a terrible Christmas funk last year - this year he is on board that even if she cries we are doing christmas in the way that best suits us.

You make a very interesting point that I hadn't considered.   Just goes to show everyone grieves differently and that it is a slippery slope in what to mention - or not. For me, it is comforting in a way for people to bring up my Dad.  To me, it shows they care. 

In the case of heartmug, I can see why it would be hurtful that they didn't even ask how she is doing after her mom died.  It was as if life went back to normal and no one cared about the grief she felt/feels.

The other family who expected the poster to go to Mother's Day celebrations as if nothing has happened to her.  I don't know how one can easily go celebrate a Mother's Day when her own just died,especially when that celebrant Mother doesn't seem to care or fathom how difficult it is. 
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Visiting Crazy Town on October 29, 2012, 03:40:44 PM
I am so sorry for your loss.

When my mom died, I didn't go to any function with my inlaws.  I too felt they just didn't care.  She died.  Then sent a card and flowers, then she was never mentioned again.  Not on Mother's Day, my birthday, or Thanksgiving.  No calls to see how I was holding up nor offers of help.  So I stayed home Christmas Eve and day and DH decided to stay with me.  BUT that was his choice.

Good luck with your situation.

 I'm confused they acknowledge your mom death with a card and flowers so they didn't ignore it.  They may have just waited for you to say something I know some people would have for them to bring up a close family member's death  every holiday
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Visiting Crazy Town on October 29, 2012, 03:46:41 PM
OP, you have my sympathy for your loss, and for what you have to go through now.

My mother passed away 3 years ago, and I had some issues dealing with the inlaws after her passing.  First, DH had a hermit uncle (yes, most definitely some psychological problems there).  For some reason, there were several relatives who did the grocery shopping for him, carted him around (when they could get him out of the house; he was a lifelong bachelor so had no wife or kids of his own), etc.  Basically, instead of getting him help or encouraging him to get help, they enabled him.  For years. He got more and more and more reclusive. (This man had been very active and outgoing years before, so this reclusiveness was a somewhat new thing; I have my own thoughts on that.) He refused to go to the doctor, even when it was obvious there were problems.  And when he finally did go, it was too late because he had cancer and a host of other problems. 

My mother had a chronic condition which could be managed, but she also had a weaker heart than average.  The condition took a toll on her heart.  My sister and I did everything we could to manage her condition and keep her with us as long as possible.  She knew this (well, some of it), and was very appreciative, and trusted us to make the best decisions for her, even if she didn't want to do it (no chocolate? blasphemy! ;)  ).  So after my mother passed away (and I was right there with her), I couldn't stand to hear ANYTHING about DH's uncle.  We tried so hard to keep my mother alive, and when they talked about him, all I could see was a man who refused medical help until it was too late to have any benefit. Whenever my MIL would bring him up, I'd grit my teeth and say nothing.  Finally, within a few months after my mother died, DH mentioned something about the uncle or seeing the uncle since he was sick, and I lost it.  I told him, tearily and noticably upset, that I just lost my mother, and if there had been some way keeping her alive longer, some other medical thing, we would have done it.  Without hesitation. Not a question...we would have done it.  Yet there was nothing that could be done for her anymore.  Yet his uncle could likely have had a much better prognosis, yet he REFUSED medical treatment, or even to SEE a medical professional, for months (could be years...I don't know).  He had it available to him, and he REFUSED it.  So, I told him, don't talk to me about going to pander to a man who values his life so little that he could essentially throw it away, when my mother just wanted to live and went through a lot, weekly, just so she COULD continue to live.

It was strong, I know.  There were circumstances of uncle's mental state, I know.  It wasn't as cut and dried as that, I know.  But that didn't matter to me at the time.  I had just lost my mother, and I told DH that I could just NOT handle seeing or hearing about the uncle.  It was like sticking a knife in my grief and twisting it.

OP, I don't know how your DH is, but maybe you need to get a little bit mad and emotional for him to understand.  Contrast what you were going through, with what MIL said at a certain time.  "DH, I was in the hospital, knowing that I had hours left with my mother.  EVER.  And your mother said XYZ.  Do you know how that made me feel?  Do you realize that I will ALWAYS remember that she chose to do/say that?"  Tell him that the wounds are still very fresh, and you still remember that like it was yesterday.  So to be around her at Christmas, which meant something special to your mother but was just almost an ordinary day to his mother?  No, you do not need to be around MIL on that day.

Perhaps 'she didn't mean it'.  Fine.  But you're feeling what you're feeling, and you have the right to feel that way.  Your MIL is a big girl and she didn't just lose someone.  In fact, she told you the day had no special meaning.  So you're taking her at her word.  Tell him you need him to have your back on this, even though he may not understand it completely.  And if MIL gets mad?  Tough.  She can get over it or die mad (to use a phrase I've seen on this board numerous times).

Hang in there.  And again, you have my sympathies.

I'm sorry for the loss of your mom but I think that you were really rude to your Husband about his Uncle.He didn;t deserve the resentment that you threw at him and I hope that you apologized to him later.  His Uncle waiting was in no way his fault and I don't think that he should suddenly ignore a sick and dying man because it upset you to hear about the Unclewhen you didn;t previously have a problem with it.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Shellybeans on October 29, 2012, 05:36:06 PM
I just wanted to pop back in to comment on one thing - the "who would he rather have upset" idea. While this is a veryvalid point  know it can come with pitfalls. My MIL, although nowhere near as toxic a yours, was very PA and had a history of crying when she didn't like a situation. So early in our relationship, DH really *would* have rather upset me than his mother. Not because I was less of a priority or because he loved me less, simply because firstly I appeared less upset (because I reacted like an adult  ::) ) so he just didn't realise how I felt and secondly because it was just so much more unpleasant for him to have an upset mother than an upset wife. It took a lot of verbalising my feelings and pointing out his mother 'tricks' before he really understood the full implications of "who would you rather upset..."

Truth is, DH probably would prefer to deal with me being upset, rather than dealing with his mother, because we can come to some sort of resolution like adults (which so far he has been unable to do with MIL).  I am not going to guilt-trip him or threaten him, I don't say things like "if you loved me, you would..." and I certainly don't want to behave like she does just to get my way.  I have a problem with how she acts, I am not going to act like that.  I am sure he would not want me to be upset but if I am, it's a lot easier for him than if she is.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Shellybeans on October 29, 2012, 05:44:32 PM
As far as your MIL goes, let DH go and see her on Christmas Eve and let him get the present (first year married - new tradition, joint presents!).  I may be projecting slightly but one of my concerns would be how DH is with his parents without you around, if you want him to start standing up to MIL when she says something about you then I would suggest explaining to DH that this needs to happen whether you're there or not.  So make sure he tells her before Christmas Eve that you won't be attending, and try to get him to understand that if she says anything on Christmas Eve about you not being there he must speak up on your behalf.

This does worry me somewhat, DH has informed me of things said about me (by PIL) when I have not been there, and I have not always reacted well to what has been said.  I think he is likely to stop telling me things so I don't get hurt, rather than dealing with them when they're said.  I would rather know what is said, and his response, than not being told.  I will talk to him about this and we might consider some responses that he can say if he is in that position.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Shellybeans on October 29, 2012, 05:56:23 PM
It was strong, I know.  There were circumstances of uncle's mental state, I know.  It wasn't as cut and dried as that, I know.  But that didn't matter to me at the time.  I had just lost my mother, and I told DH that I could just NOT handle seeing or hearing about the uncle.  It was like sticking a knife in my grief and twisting it.

I am very sorry for what you went through and I can completely understand how you felt about the situation with your husband's uncle, especially compared to what your mother went through.  It may not be entirely rational under other circumstances to react that way but it is hurtful to have to be around that, considering what you had been through. 

And if MIL gets mad?  Tough.  She can get over it or die mad (to use a phrase I've seen on this board numerous times).

I may never utter those words to DH but I am certainly going to start saying that in my head!
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Shellybeans on October 29, 2012, 06:29:41 PM
Sometimes I think people say "that's just the way she is" when they are feeling pressured to CHANGE someone. When they are only being presented with *complaints* and not with requests to craft a response.

Your DH can't change his mom. And if your complaints feel to him as though he is being pressured *to* change her, then this is how he is going to respond to you.

The truth is, That IS just the way she is. And he has realized that he is not going to be able to change her.

So if this is the response you get from him when you complain about your MIL, you need to change your script. You need to start saying, "Since your mother is this way, I want to response in *other* way than we have been doing."

I think a lot of times that "just the way they are" gets trotted out not to *excuse* the behavior but to say, "this is the part of the equation we are not going to change. Stop pressuring me."

Just a thought.

Honestly, I had not considered it that way and I can see your point(s).  I will say, though, that in some situations "that's just the way she is" is used as an excuse, and I do strongly believe that people can change - but they have to want to change and they have to acknowledge there is a reason for change.  She has no reason to change because everyone around her just accepts "that's the way she is" and allows her to continue being that way without any repercussions - why should she change if no one has a problem with it?

I will try and change the way I talk about MIL to DH and use some of your suggestions.  It may make a difference, or it may not.  But as an example, if MIL makes a racist / sexist remark (which she does, so I'm not just throwing that out there as a completely unrelated example), I would rather DH didn't say "that's just the way she is" with a shrug and a half-smile, I'd rather he said "because she is racist / sexist".  I would expect him to let her know we don't want her to make remarks like those because we do not feel the same way and find it offensive to hear them.  I don't expect him to change her but we do need to change the way we react and respond, which we are not doing because "that's just the way she is".
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: TootsNYC on October 29, 2012, 06:58:54 PM
.....  She has no reason to change because everyone around her just accepts "that's the way she is" and allows her to continue being that way without any repercussions - why should she change if no one has a problem with it?


Good point! And one argument for changing you HOW react to her is that in a way, you are helping her by providing accurate feedback. By letting her know how hurt you are, and my cooling the interactions pointedly, by telling her directly that you are upset and that the end result is that you don't want to be around her,  you are helping her.

Quote

I will try and change the way I talk about MIL to DH and use some of your suggestions.  It may make a difference, or it may not.  But as an example, if MIL makes a racist / sexist remark (which she does, so I'm not just throwing that out there as a completely unrelated example), I would rather DH didn't say "that's just the way she is" with a shrug and a half-smile, I'd rather he said "because she is racist / sexist".  I would expect him to let her know we don't want her to make remarks like those because we do not feel the same way and find it offensive to hear them.  I don't expect him to change her but we do need to change the way we react and respond, which we are not doing because "that's just the way she is".


One phrase I love when people use is, "yes, that's the way Relative is. And this is the way *I* am--I refuse to stay when people say racist stuff. That's just how I am. Now it's Relative's turn to adjust to me. So I'll be gathering my things and leaving if she says that sort of thing. Or, I'll be speaking up when she says that sort of thing."
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 29, 2012, 07:12:37 PM
As far as your MIL goes, let DH go and see her on Christmas Eve and let him get the present (first year married - new tradition, joint presents!).  I may be projecting slightly but one of my concerns would be how DH is with his parents without you around, if you want him to start standing up to MIL when she says something about you then I would suggest explaining to DH that this needs to happen whether you're there or not.  So make sure he tells her before Christmas Eve that you won't be attending, and try to get him to understand that if she says anything on Christmas Eve about you not being there he must speak up on your behalf.

This does worry me somewhat, DH has informed me of things said about me (by PIL) when I have not been there, and I have not always reacted well to what has been said.  I think he is likely to stop telling me things so I don't get hurt, rather than dealing with them when they're said.  I would rather know what is said, and his response, than not being told.  I will talk to him about this and we might consider some responses that he can say if he is in that position.

I would think the ultimate solution to this is for your DH to stand up to his parents and let him know in no uncertain terms that any negative discussion about you in or out of your presence will not be tolerated.   What does he do when they say these things about you? 
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 29, 2012, 07:15:14 PM


Honestly, I had not considered it that way and I can see your point(s).  I will say, though, that in some situations "that's just the way she is" is used as an excuse, and I do strongly believe that people can change - but they have to want to change and they have to acknowledge there is a reason for change.  She has no reason to change because everyone around her just accepts "that's the way she is" and allows her to continue being that way without any repercussions - why should she change if no one has a problem with it?

I will try and change the way I talk about MIL to DH and use some of your suggestions.  It may make a difference, or it may not.  But as an example, if MIL makes a racist / sexist remark (which she does, so I'm not just throwing that out there as a completely unrelated example), I would rather DH didn't say "that's just the way she is" with a shrug and a half-smile, I'd rather he said "because she is racist / sexist".  I would expect him to let her know we don't want her to make remarks like those because we do not feel the same way and find it offensive to hear them.  I don't expect him to change her but we do need to change the way we react and respond, which we are not doing because "that's just the way she is".

The book I mentioned about, "The Dance of Anger" by Harriet Lerner is about that very topic - of setting boundaries and changing how YOU react to the person who will never change. 
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Shellybeans on October 29, 2012, 07:25:55 PM
Last year was the first year in 5 years since my Mom died that I didn't have to go to the IL's for Mother's day.  They just did not get it. They are sweet people, but I had to leave the state to be able to ignore Mother's day.

I am sorry that you had to go through that, Christmas was a special day with my mum - and I know it's not like that with everyone - but Mother's Day?  There is no way I will be spending Mother's Day with my MIL, Mother's Day was a special day with my mum and it will be a special day with my children if / when we have any.  It is not a day for me to spend with MIL, it is a day for DH to spend time with his mum if he wants to.

I think that it is perfectly okay to spend Christmas away from the PIL's.  But I don't think a present boycott is the way to go.  Take this time to bond with your family.  This is going to be a really hard Holiday for you all. If your DH feels that he needs to show up at some point at his parents, so be it, but that day will be painful enough without having to put on a "Happy Christmas Face" so soon after your loss, so you will not be able to join him.

It wasn't really a present boycott in that sense, I was just wondering if it would be more acceptable (generally) to not celebrate Christmas and not do any gift exchanges rather than appear to refuse to spend time with PIL but exchange gifts.  I am worried the gift thing will factor into how his mum behaves or reacts "DIL couldn't be bothered seeing us on Christmas Day, we're not important enough but she expects a gift!" or "DIL is pretending she is grieving for her mum so she doesn't have to see us...but she was happy enough to exchange gifts with us!".  I do have good reasons for feeling this is how it is going to turn out - and I will definitely be sharing if my suspicions prove correct.  Anyway, I think DH giving a gift to his parents from us is how it will go.

And no matter what people say, no matter how nice they are, people tend to be made uncomfortable at the happy holiday by any outward grieving.  Ask your DH how comfortable his parents and family would be with any show of grief on your part.  And then ask him how nice or kind it is to make you put on that "Happy Christmas Face" for his family.

Honestly, I think any outward grieving on my part will be met with envy / jealousy from MIL because she knows I am grieving because I really loved my mother and miss her terribly.  I also think there will be a part of MIL that will be happy to see me upset because she does take pleasure in other people's suffering.  If I was to put on a happy face, she might instead assume it's because I didn't love and miss my mother terribly as much as I have made out that I do, or she might decide that I have elevated her into the position my mother would usually occupy and she would be absolutely over-the-moon about that.

However, DH is not like that and I suspect he has never really considered what I wrote above, so I will bring that up - I may instead choose to phrase it as "I would not be comfortable showing that I am grieving and make Christmas celebrations uncomfortable for everyone but I am not going to be able to put on a happy face and pretend I am not grieving".  Do you think that would work as well?  I just wonder if that will prevent any "but mum & dad won't mind if you're upset" or "no one expects you to pretend that you don't miss your mum" responses.

Also, is it okay that I am responding to posts individually?  I tried the multiple quote thing and I found it a bit too confusing.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: JeanFromBNA on October 29, 2012, 07:50:00 PM
I have never figured out multi-quotes either, and I've been here awhile.

For your own sanity and grieving process, I think that you need to back down from DEFCON 2.  Stay at home this Xmas, and use the social excuse of grief to avoid them right now.  Let your DH handle communication with the the ILs, and don't feel bad if he goes over to see them; you all have adjusting to do, and it takes time.  Let him get them a joint present, and accept a present from them graciously as you normally would (however that is).  Then, next year, when your grief is not so raw, decide together how to handle ILs.  You'll make much more rational and strong decisions, I promise.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 29, 2012, 09:25:07 PM
I have to say your MIL sounds absolutely vile.  It seems you have her number and that is a huge part of the battle.  To switch things around to her own benefit in her mind is just abhorrent. 
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: SPuck on October 29, 2012, 09:44:35 PM
I think it would help you if you just stop thinking about what other people think.

What I am saying it does now matter if your mother in law thinks your a bad person, good person, purple, or green. What does matter it a firm backbone, and responding with action. If your not in a good place to deal with her right now then don't. If she thinks your a bad person let her think that. If the tells other people your a bad person and they respond to what she says they are not worth your time either. Stop thinking about the thoughts and rumors and only respond to things that have actually happened.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: wheeitsme on October 29, 2012, 10:47:15 PM
I may instead choose to phrase it as "I would not be comfortable showing that I am grieving and make Christmas celebrations uncomfortable for everyone but I am not going to be able to put on a happy face and pretend I am not grieving".  Do you think that would work as well?  I just wonder if that will prevent any "but mum & dad won't mind if you're upset" or "no one expects you to pretend that you don't miss your mum" responses.

Also, is it okay that I am responding to posts individually?  I tried the multiple quote thing and I found it a bit too confusing.

It might not prevent it, but then you can simply respond with "But I mind.  And I would feel uncomfortable". 

I do take some comfort that at least my in-laws were just clueless.  But it still hurt.

...And respond however you are comfortable responding.  ;)
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Redsoil on October 30, 2012, 06:23:38 AM
To any "persuasion" from your DH or, your could simply say "I really need to process this in my own way, and own time.  I need you to be there for me while I grieve the loss of my mother, and to understand that your support means the world to me.  I can't do this without you."
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: sparksals on October 30, 2012, 01:03:53 PM
I love Redsoil's answer.  It sounds like it would make the DH feel very needed by his wife, which is very true at this stage.

Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: White Lotus on October 30, 2012, 09:45:42 PM
Grammarnerd, your blowup sounds normal, natural and human.  You aimed some of the feelings surrounding your grief at the nearest convenient and plausible target.  That wasn't polite, or even nice -- but under the circumstances, it is a small, understandable, fault, easily corrected.  Others do truly understand and courtesy requires them to have "already forgotten" or brush it off.  Rather like passing gas, there are some things etiquette, in kindness, discreetly ignores and rises above.

Shellybeans, while this is your first, and sadly, traumatic, married holiday season together, for which you have my sympathy, in my experience couples normally have the "what will we do for the relevant holiday" conversation a bit before the expectations and invitations start coming in.  You and DH have done so before, and often enough to establish traditions, now sadly shattered by your mother's death.  Please have this conversation, civilly and practically, with that "this year is in no way normal, things change with time so we're flexible, and begin as you mean to go on" attitude mentioned so often and well above. Please try to keep your emotions out of this conversation and work on civil and courteous.  Do your emotional work outside this conversation.  You are more likely to achieve your goals of getting DH on your page, establish you as a couple as the primary unit, getting your needs met this holiday season and ever after, and leaving the door open for changes.  They happen.  Our longstanding holiday traditions have often changed and changed back over the years, and are changing again as our children grow up and some of our siblings even have grandchildren.  Your MIL may have been abhorrant, but for right now, just go for achieving your objectives with perfect propriety in case things change, and you perhaps change your mind.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: cicero on October 31, 2012, 10:31:52 AM
I just wanted to pop back in to comment on one thing - the "who would he rather have upset" idea. While this is a veryvalid point  know it can come with pitfalls. My MIL, although nowhere near as toxic a yours, was very PA and had a history of crying when she didn't like a situation. So early in our relationship, DH really *would* have rather upset me than his mother. Not because I was less of a priority or because he loved me less, simply because firstly I appeared less upset (because I reacted like an adult  ::) ) so he just didn't realise how I felt and secondly because it was just so much more unpleasant for him to have an upset mother than an upset wife. It took a lot of verbalising my feelings and pointing out his mother 'tricks' before he really understood the full implications of "who would you rather upset..."

Truth is, DH probably would prefer to deal with me being upset, rather than dealing with his mother, because we can come to some sort of resolution like adults (which so far he has been unable to do with MIL).  I am not going to guilt-trip him or threaten him, I don't say things like "if you loved me, you would..." and I certainly don't want to behave like she does just to get my way.  I have a problem with how she acts, I am not going to act like that.  I am sure he would not want me to be upset but if I am, it's a lot easier for him than if she is.


and if this is absolutely true, that your DH would rather have you upset than his mom, then you have way bigger issues than "where to spend christmas". If i wwere you - i would talk to him, and talk to him now. get a feel for where he stands. tell him exactly what you say here "i feel that if you had to choose, you would rather have me upset than your mom". ask him how he feels about that. cause if you ask me - that really stinks. because it's not that he is unable to handle his mother; it's that he won't do what he has to do. and there is a big difference. i mean what is the worst that will happen - she'll pout? she'll yell? she'll gossip about you?

you shouldn't have to resort to guilt trips or threats or behave like a baby.  you shouldn't have to be in the position of "making him choose". it shouldn't *be* a question - he should "choose" his wife. if his mother is a reasonable person, then there is always room for compromise. but she isn't.
Title: Re: Christmas with PIL (my mum not with us anymore).
Post by: Shellybeans on November 06, 2012, 03:08:58 PM
I wanted to thank everyone for their comments & advice, I have read (and re-read) each reply and managed to get my own thoughts and feelings straightened out.  I will be using some of the strategies that have been suggested for future "discussions" - and I will be getting my hands on Toxic In-Laws & The Dance of Anger, for a little light bedtime reading. 

I have a small update, nothing huge but I did discuss Christmas with DH.  He knows I won't be spending time with his parents at Christmas and he is okay with that.  I am not yet sure what he intends to do, or if he has informed his parents about this.  I am not sure if I want to know how they react or not.  I did say that I don't mind if he sees his parents at Christmas, and I am not intending on stopping him but I would be sad if we didn't have time together.

He knows I dislike the way his parents have treated us and how they have behaved and he certainly knows that is affecting how I feel about spending time with them in general but I didn't make that the main issue.  Everything else, we will have to deal with if and when new situations arise (I am sure they will - FIL birthday is before Christmas, MIL birthday is after Christmas so that should be fun!).  I also let him know that I really did want this Christmas to be about new traditions for us, and I would have wanted that this year, regardless of everything else that has happened, because it is our first married Christmas.  He had a few ideas about what we could do and what he would like to do, so I feel good about that.